June 18, 2014, by Susanna Ison

Postgraduate Placements and SMEs

I started working with Postgraduate Placements at the University of Nottingham at the beginning of May.  The main aim of the project is to place Postgraduate Students in small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the East Midlands. Therefore a large part of my role is to find SMEs who have a project that a placement student could work on.

What are SMEs and why is there not more written about them in the national press?   The news is full of the good and bad activities of large national and international businesses and public sector organisations. Government however, sees the growth in the number of SMEs as the way out of the recession, so what are they, what do they do and where are they located?

Some statistics: obtained from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

  •  In 2013, there were 4.9 million private sector businesses in the UK.
  • Over 99% of businesses are Small or Medium Sized businesses – (employing fewer than 250 employees.)
  • SMEs employed 14.4 million people and had a combined turnover of £1,600 billion
  • The European Commission’s SME Performance Review estimates the Gross Value Added of SMEs as €473 billion or 49.8% of the UK economy.
  • In 2013 the East Midlands had 314,000 SME’s

This was 3% less than in 2012 the biggest fall in the country – does anyone know the reason for this fall?

Since starting this role I have talked to the owners of some SMEs and visited their premises, I have been hugely impressed by their innovative ideas, their enthusiasm and desire to take their ideas and products further.  Behind the doors of insignificant buildings on industrial estates or in former large scale industrial factories or warehouses small businesses are now housed.  There are some outstanding examples of creativity, technology and scientific research being carried out, many of which feed into the large household names of which we are all aware.

The business owners I have spoken to are keen to take a postgraduate student on placement they acknowledge that they will bring expertise to their organisation, new ways of looking at problems, that they will be flexible and produce results.

95% of employees in the UK now work in businesses with less than one hundred staff, postgraduate students at Nottingham have the chance to experience working in such a business before they make their career choice.

Susanna Ison -Postgraduate Placement Delivery Manager

Posted in Placements